Chuck Close (American, b. 1940), Lucas, 1986–87. his work. How can students show their intel-
Oil and pencil on canvas, 100 x 84" (254 x 213 ligence through making or talking about art?
cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, What can students say about themselves or
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Gift of others through art?
Arnold and Milly Glimcher, 1987 (1987.282).
© 2003 Chuck Close.
Close is dyslexic and never enjoyed academic success during childhood. Through art, John S. Welch, museum educator in charge of
however, he always proved to be highly intel- youth programs, The Metropolitan Museum
lectual in both the concept and execution of of Art, New York.
What do we learn about Lucas Samaras
from this portrait? What do we learn about
his profession? What about his personality?
Do you think Close knows his sitter well?
Critics have argued that Close’s objective
painting style detaches him, and us, from
the people in his portraits. Do you agree?
View this portrait from multiple angles
and observe the multiple angles within the
painting. Discuss with students how this
visual experience parallels the unique
human process of viewing.
Engagement with Chuck Close’s pictures
puts us face-to-face with “portraits of photographs of his subjects.” His working method,
whereby he draws a grid over a photograph
of his sitter and then methodically paints, at
a large scale, one square at a time, simultaneously creates illusion and reality. Each of
Close’s pictures becomes a perceptual odyssey that the artist hopes will be a “roadmap
to human experience,” leading us to insight
about his subject.
Imitating the poses of the figures at the
Like other Romanesque works of medieval top, have your students enact the type of
art, here blank faces, flattened figures, and conversation the men may be having.
patterned drapery combine with vibrant lines, Then have them explain what led them to
large expressive hands, and theatrical move- imagine this conversation. For the bottom
ments to effectively convey a drama—in this scene, have students assume the point of
case, that of Jesus appearing after his death. view of one figure or the other and explain
Above, Jesus as a pilgrim joins his disciples what that figure is perceiving.
traveling to the town of Emmaus. Though
they do not recognize Jesus, their gestures Michael Norris, associate museum educator,
and lively stride indicate a spirited discus- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
sion. A Latin inscription describes the bottom
scene: “The Lord speaks to Mary.” In the
SchoolArts April 2007
Plaque with the Journey to Emmaus and the him behind her. Here, Mary’s response is to
Noli Me Tangere, ca. 1115–1120. Spanish, made run towards him with outstretched hands.
in León. Ivory, traces of gilding, 105/8 x 55/16" (27 x Though Jesus sways away, his hands approach
13.5 cm). Probably mounted on a reliquary with her in a powerful gesture of caution and bless-
other plaques showing events from Jesus’s life. The ing.
Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.47). Activity
Biblical account, Mary Magdalene, weeping
near Jesus’s empty tomb, suddenly recognizes
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J.
SchoolArts April 2007
Another mouthpiece is hidden behind the
head, and when air is blown into this small
chamber, a high, screeching note can be heard.
Experiment with sounds—blow across the
top of a bottle, pluck a rubber band, rattle
a box of macaroni. Can you imitate any
animal sounds? Design a musical instrument in the shape of an animal. What
does your animal instrument sound like?
Pre-Columbian clay whistles were often
designed based on the shape and sound of an
animal. These instruments might have been
used to communicate with spirits.
Discuss how our perception of an image
can be changed by words. Divide students
into groups and ask them to select an
image from a museum’s Web site, a news
story, or a magazine advertisement. Tak-
ing their inspiration from the image,
they should write stories or poems that
express different moods. When present-
ing, the group should first ask the class
to examine the image by itself. They
should then read one of their stories
or poems and ask the class if it has chan-
ged how they feel about the image. Try
the exercise again using the same image
but a different reading.
Teresa Russo, museum educator, new media
production, The Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York.
SchoolArts April 2007
When air is blown into the mouthpiece Rebecca Arkenberg, independent museum
located in the bird’s tail, it passes through the educator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
large hollow body and a deep, mellow sound New York.
is produced. The hole in the bird’s chest can
be covered and uncovered by a finger to produce two notes or to make a warbling sound.
Section from the “Book of the Dead” of Nany,
ca. 1040–945 bc, Third Intermediate Period,
Dynasty 21, reigns of Psensennes I–II. Egypt,
Western Thebes. Painted and inscribed papyrus, h.
13¾" (35 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.31).
This section from a papyrus scroll was found
buried with the mummy of Nany. The second
figure from the left, Nany is shown with the
gods Isis, Anubis, and Osiris in the Hall of
Judgment, where her heart will be balanced
against truth and justice to see if she is worthy
of entering the afterlife. The scroll is inscribed
with a collection of texts known as the “Book
of the Dead.” Egyptians believed the afterlife
to be a daily cycle of rebirth, like the rising
and setting of the sun. During Nany’s burial
ceremony, priests recited the texts. The texts
worked with the picture of successful judgment to help Nany enter the afterlife. We can
see from the scale that she has passed the test.
Double Whistle in Bird Form, 7th–9th century,
Mexico (Maya). Ceramic with polychromy, h.
8¼" (21 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, Purchase, Gift of Elizabeth M. Riley, by
exchange, 2000 (2000.44).
Modeled in clay, fired, and painted with blue
and yellow pigment, this owl-like bird may
be the harpy eagle of Mayan myth. A ruff of
feathers with four solar disks surrounds its
face and its deer-like ears are alert. Thick blue
eyebrows accent large, lidded eyes. The prominent beak and sharp talons identify it as a bird
of prey. This bird can be admired as a work of
art or played as a musical instrument: it is a
whistle or vessel flute (ocarina).